1. The reactions from Democrats (and Facebook) came fast and furious yesterday as word got out that Washington State's Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna had decided to join a gaggle of red state attorneys general and file a lawsuit against the federal health care reform bill.

State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz had the loudest quote of the day. And PubliCola's very own LawNerd questioned whether AG McKenna even had the (state) constitutional right to file the lawsuit.

But certainly, all eyes were on U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-1), who's likely to face off against McKenna for governor in 2012.

Here's Rep. Inslee:
“We fought over 2,000 insurance industry lobbyists in Washington DC to protect Washingtonians health care, we shouldn’t have to fight our own Attorney General too.  Stripping families of their legal rights to insurance, may be the South Carolina way, may be the insurance company way, may be the Tea Party way, but it’s not the Washington way.

“Rob Mckenna would leave Washingtonians naked and allow insurance companies to deny them care for a preexisting condition or strip them of coverage after they get sick. That is not the Washington way.  We should be disappointed that our attorney general has chosen to be in league with insurance companies and not Washingtonians.

“Rob Mckenna does not know, or does not care that a significant part of this comprehensive reform includes the solution to decades of Medicare reimbursement disparity for Washington health care providers and hospitals, and more importantly a new structure for health care spending that will reward quality care, reduce the deficit and save families money.”

2. The state House and Senate do not appear any closer to a budget compromise. In a sit down with the press yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Lisa Brown (D-3, Spokane) said her caucus remained committed to its revenue plan—an 0.2 percent increase in the sales tax ($20 a family per year for $210 million) and $160 million in new B&O taxes.



Sen. Lisa Brown meets with the press yesterday.

“We view the Senate revenue package as being balanced between some modest increases on the business side of the equation and modest increases on the consumer side of the equation,” Brown said.

The House rejected the Senate sales tax idea on Saturday (and proposed a slightly larger batch of new B&O taxes for $200 million in revenue.)

In addition to the main disagreement over raising the sales tax, the House is set on ending some hefty tax breaks: a $67 million exemption on mortgage loan interest for big banks; the $41.5 million of sales tax exemption on out state shoppers; and a $76.5 million exemption on custom software.

Here's the problem with the potential compromise: If the Senate gives in on the sales tax (and scraps it) and the House gives in on the exemptions (and keeps them in place), they'd have a deal that would cost them hundreds of millions of dollars. Right now, the goal is to raise money, not lose it.

The governor, has in fact, suggested a lower revenue target—$700 million, as opposed to both houses' current $800 million—as a way out of the impasse. But, fearing any more cuts, Sen. Brown rejected that idea yesterday:
“The Senate is not interested in that,” she said. “$800 million supports the budget that we’re currently negotiating. To go lower than that, you have to go back to the budget and reevaluate program priorities.”


3. Having nearly sold out their upcoming two-night stand at the Showbox this Friday and Saturday, local hip hop masters, Blue Scholars, have decided to add a third show. Details to come.

4. PubliCola is hosting a forum about 520 tonight starring Seattle City Council Member Mike O’Brien (who wants a rapid transit-friendly design) and state Eastside suburban House Rep. Deb Eddy (D-48, Medina, Clyde Hill, Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue) (who ushered through a bill this session to begin construction on an a non-rapid transit model).

Tonight, March 23 at the Del Rey in Belltown (2332, 1st Ave). Doors open at 5:30.

Erica C. Barnett moderates.